Can you imagine reading a full-page ad in the newspaper saying that a major scientific discovery has been made that will extend healthy living by 10 to 15 years? For a mere $19.95 the ‘secret remedy’ is yours. When the package arrives the instructions simply say to reconnect with as many friends as possible and start making a concerted effort to create more genuine relationships. Would you demand a refund? The Harvard Study on aging would indicate that a simple thing like making friendships is better than the best medicine that science has[CM1] to offer. Now this requires more than jumping on Facebook and sending friend requests. This means developing deep personal interactive relationships that are based on love, gratitude and forgiveness. One of the issues of growing older is some of your closest relationships have passed, and if you are somewhat isolated, it may be difficult to cultivate new friends.
George Vaillant, director of the Harvard Study says, “This is more than caring for others, lots of healthcare professionals have dysfunctional lives, though they are able to care for others. What's critical is allowing yourself to love others, and being able to take people in--as in, I've got you under my skin.” In a personal encounter, do you come away feeling awkward and uncomfortable or appreciative and grateful? Developing deep relationships is time consuming and rewarding work. A simple lesson from the study is to worry less about cholesterol and more about gratitude and love. In the best case, according to Vaillant, an ever-widening social radius of human connection allows older people to be among the happy-well group. One of the steps that may improve those odds is living in an active household community. Isolation is bad medicine!